Mexico, and Cancun specifically, continue to rise in the ranks of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, according to recent report by Euromonitor International research.
Despite a historically active hurricane season in the region (or maybe because of it, partly) and an increasingly politicized travel market, Cancun showed significant growth as it became the strongest growing destination in all of the Americas according to the Top 100 City Destination Ranking revealed at the World Travel Market London event earlier this month.
“It’s a banner year for Mexico and there’s been a couple of reasons for it,” explained Tom Varghese of Travel Tom, which specializes in the Mexican tourism market.
“Firstly, the Caribbean got hit extremely hard with hurricanes and it forced travelers to look for an alternate. Many people saw Mexico and realized it offers the best breadth of product and the best quality at every price point,” he explained.
Varghese would go on to say that the increase in travel as a result of a flood of destination weddings to Cancun – a market segment he says shows no signs of leveling off anytime soon – also contributed to the overall growth.
“The number of destination weddings far superseded what it had in previous years. Each wedding can bring between 100 and 250 and that drives the (total) numbers way up,” he explained.
Varghese specifically pointed to South Asian weddings, in particular Indian weddings, as gaining in popularity in Cancun and said that Palace Resorts is one of few resorts that can handle large wedding parties.
“There are only a couple of resorts that can handle (the largest) weddings, with enough space for receptions and other facilities, “ he said.
In addition, Palace Resorts’ in-house Indian chef provides a distinct advantage over competitors since they don’t have to outsource to a separate caterer that has a virtual monopoly on Indian cuisine.
“Having an in-house Indian chef drastically reduces the destination wedding price point and provides a competitive advantage over other all-inclusive resort,” he said.
The US continues to be the largest source market for travel to Mexico, although Europe and Asia numbers are also experiencing an uptick.
Jennifer Doncecz, president of VIP Vacations Inc., isn’t surprised that the US market continues to lead the way, even with some political challenges popping up this year.
“I think Americans have a short term memory! With the amount of flight options into Cancun and amazing hotel rates, it makes it very appealing to travel to Cancun,” she said.
She agreed that the range of options in Cancun, especially for families looking for high-end all-inclusives, is hard to match and explained that the growth of the destination wedding market has helped Riviera Maya shed its former reputation as solely a Spring Break hotspot.
“Over the years Cancun has emerged as a destination that is perfect for honeymooners, families, and luxury travelers,” Doncecz said.
“Cancun has removed themselves from their old reputation which was that Cancun was only for Spring Breakers. I believe that Cancun will continue to be a destination that is very appealing! I believe the media hype will soon fade and the true essence that this destination oozes will continue to stand out!”